What is the likelihood that a student will graduate from or drop out of a Chicago public school?

Graduation and dropout rates are important pieces of information about the performance of high schools and school systems. But determining how many students graduate from or drop out of high school is far more complicated than it might seem. There are numerous methods for calculating these rates. Depending on how the terms “graduate,” “transfer,” and “drop out” are defined, and depending on who is included in the base population of potential graduates, graduation and dropout rates can vary considerably. Commonly used methods of calculating these rates leave much to be desired, especially when applied to Chicago’s public schools. For example, the method used by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) overestimates the graduation rate when large numbers of students transfer between schools, as is the case in Chicago. In recent years, many journalists, community groups, and social scientists have questioned the accuracy of the official graduation and dropout rates in Chicago public schools and raised concerns about the extent of racial or ethnic differences in rates of school completion.  The Illinois State Board of Education sets the official method for calculating graduation and dropout rates in the state. According to that method, the graduation rate for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is 69.8 percent. The Consortium calculates that only 54 percent of CPS students graduate.


Too many times we hear “It is not their fault”.  This may be true. Whether it is or not, the responsibility to move forward is still theirs and once they acknowledge that, the healing begins.


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